U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron held back from discussing the tax affairs of Google Inc. during a meeting with business leaders who included the California-based company’s executive chairman, Eric Schmidt.
The prime minister’s spokesman, Jean-Christophe Gray, said that he “was not aware of any bilateral meetings” between Cameron and Schmidt at a regular gathering with executives in London today. Cameron explained to the gathering how he wants to reach a global agreement to overhaul company taxes during Britain’s presidency of the Group of Eight this year.
“The right thing to do is to pursue this tax transparency agenda,” Gray told reporters at one of his twice-daily briefings. “The prime minister believes companies must pay the taxes that are due,” he said, when asked whether Cameron thought Google should pay more tax in the U.K.
Last week, Margaret Hodge, an opposition Labour Party lawmaker who heads Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee, said Google was “evil” because it exploited the rules and acted unethically to minimize its tax bills.
Hodge’s parliamentary hearing with a Google executive last week was held amid a wider international effort to get companies to pay more tax as governments cut spending programs to curb deficits. Apple Inc. Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook will be the subject of a Senate hearing on U.S. companies’ offshore tax practices tomorrow. Apple uses a similar strategy to the one used by Google to cut its tax liabilities.